April 17, 2024

The Department of Health reported the number of pertussis cases in the country reached 568 with 40 deaths from Jan. 1 to March 16.

Some 28 new cases were recorded from March 10 to 16, the DOH said.

Of the total, at least six out of 10 cases (356 or 62.7 percent) were infants below six months old. Three out of four (270 cases or 75.8 percent) of these infants were either unvaccinated or with unknown vaccination history.

Close to seven out of 10 (384 cases, 67.6 percent) of the total number of cases regardless of age either failed to receive any immunization or with unknown vaccination history, the DOH said.

“The number of new pertussis cases did rise from the weeks of Feb. 4 and 11 (122 cases) to the weeks of February 18 and 25 (149 cases). This has gone down to only 73 new cases in the weeks of March 3 and 10,” the DOH noted.

The DOH said pertussis starts as a mild cough and cold that lasts about two weeks and is followed by paroxysms or fits of coughing which lasts up to six weeks.

The disease is characterized by a “whooping” or high-pitched sound in between coughs, especially when inhaling; vomiting immediately after coughing; and low-grade fever.

Infants with pertussis may turn cyanotic or bluish when coughing.

“Pertussis is caused by bacteria – either bordetella pertussis, or bordetella parapertussis. Antibiotics are available and effective against them and depending on the antibiotic used and the age and condition of the patient, treatment may run from 4 to 14 days,” the DOH said.

The agency advised everyone to consult a doctor and not self-medicate in case of symptoms. Pertussis transmission may be prevented by covering coughs and sneezes, regular and proper handwashing, and vaccination. – PNA